Board of Directors

Scott Sparks, Senior Director of People, Virgin Galactic

Scott Sparks has a personal investment in Generation 1st Degree- Pico Rivera (G1DPR). As a first-generation student, Scott’s parents assumed he would take over the family business; however, he had plans for higher education. Similar to many first-generation “Gen X” graduates, Scott solely navigated and financed his way through college, while working full time. His perseverance earned him a B.S. in Human Services from California State University, Fullerton; and a M.S. in Human Resource Management from Chapman University.

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Scott appreciates that today’s first-generation students are not navigating the system alone, and instead are receiving the college access and support opportunities offered through G1DPR. As a board member, Scott is committed to enhancing G1DPR’s programs by leveraging his network of local technology, engineering and aerospace companies to enhance and advocate for career experiences for G1DPR students. A versatile human resources leader for more than 15 years, Scott has seen the increasing need for Hispanic engineers in the industries he serves.

Currently, Scott serves as the Senior Director of People for Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, based in Long Beach, Calif. Previous to his current role, Scott served as Senior HR Business Partner for communications technology company, Broadcom, based in Irvine; and as the manager and HR Business Partner for Northrup Grumman Corporation, the leading global security company, based in Redondo Beach, respectively.

Scott lives in Long Beach, Calif. with his husband and three children. As a Hispanic family, Scott is passionate about ensuring that his children, as well as the students of G1DPR, are provided with resources that motivate and provide a pathway to bridge the gap between the need for human resources and the talented pool of first-generation graduates.

 

Dr. Lydia Terrazas-Wells

Dr. Lydia Terrazas-Wells is a seasoned educator with more than 40 years serving as a teacher, principal, district office administrator, consultant and university faculty member. As a Pico Rivera native, she is committed to Generation 1st Degree’s mission of achieving one college graduate per Pico Rivera household. In addition she is committed to helping her community’s future leaders move ahead. Dr. Terrazas-Wells is passionate about early preparation for young children to go to college. The Kindergarten Book Bag Program, which the Gilbert and Jacki Foundation support, was her brainchild to get kindergarten students focused on reading and college. She is passionate about encouraging & supporting early reading and early literary programs that uplift and inspire.

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Dr. Terraza-Wells brings to the Board of Directors a deep understanding of local, state and national K-12 educational needs with a specific interest on how to move the needle for the Hispanic community towards higher education. She served as a field supervisor for Chapman University and a university staff member of Taft University. Previous to her university roles, she was a consultant for Date WORKS Educational Research (Fowler, CA) and the Nevada State Department of Education (Clark County Schools) working with underperforming schools. Dr. Terrazas-Wells has served as an elementary principal in three school districts at six school sites.

The El Rancho Unified School District, the Corona- Norco Unified School District and the Irvine Unified School District. The school sites where she served as principal have received many awards including National Blue Ribbon School, California Distinguished School, Model Bilingual Education, Governors Reading Award School and National PTA Outstanding Unit.

Dr. Terrazas-Wells received her B.A. in English and M.A. in Elementary Education from California State University, Long Beach. She earned her EdD. in Organizational Leadership from the University of La Verne, graduating as the Doctoral Class of 2005’s Valedictorian. Dr. Terrazas-Wells has received several accolades to date, including but not limited to: “Outstanding Contribution in Education,” El Rancho Hall of Fame, where she was also inducted into the United States Congressional Record; Riverside County Outstanding Administrator of the Year, Principal of the Year for the California School Administrators Association (ASCA). In addition Dr. Terrazas- Wells was selected as one of 25 elementary principals in the United States to be part of a delegation of educators to tour China, visit local Chinese schools and work with Chinese educators.

 

Jacki Cisneros, President & Co-Founder, Generation 1st Degree – Pico Rivera

Jacki Cisneros is the President and Co-founder of Generation 1st Degree- Pico Rivera. As a long-time resident of Pico Rivera, Jacki and her husband Gilbert founded the nonprofit organization in 2013 to help local children and their families in the El Rancho Unified School District pursue and achieve their dreams of obtaining a college degree. Under Jacki’s leadership, several top notch university-focused preparation programs have been brought to El Rancho High School, giving over 500 students every year the opportunity to access key college-bound guidance programs. This includes tips on application letters, personal essay training, SAT/ACT preparation, student and parent University tours, mentorship opportunities, scholarship advice, college application assistance, career experiences and more.

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Jacki’s work doesn’t end at the high-school level; in fact, it begins with El Rancho’s youngest students. Every fall, Jacki hosts the Generation 1st Degree- Pico Rivera Kindergarten Book Giveaway, with the goal to promote early literacy skills in young children. Since 2011, the annual event has provided more than 5,000 books to kindergartners throughout Pico Rivera in order to help instill in them a love of reading. And ultimately uplift and inspire the children to dream big.

Jacki is also the Vice President of The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation, which was formed in 2010. The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation is dedicated to increasing the education level of Hispanic Americans, as well as nurturing a community, which supports and values the importance of Hispanic education.

Prior to her foundation work, Jacki enjoyed a successful 18-year career in broadcast journalism, covering news and entertainment in Los Angeles. She is a two-time Emmy® award winner and worked as an assignment editor at several Los Angeles news stations, including KNBC, Fox-owned KCOP, the local CBS affiliate KCBS, and the nationally-syndicated entertainment show EXTRA.

Jacki grew up in both Pico Rivera and Yorba Linda, California. She graduated from the University of Southern California, with a B.A. from the Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and currently serves on the advisory board of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI).

 

Gilbert R. Cisneros, Vice President and Co-Founder Generation 1st Degree- Pico Rivera

Gilbert Cisneros is the Vice President and Co-founder of Generation 1st Degree- Pico Rivera. With a passion for helping Hispanic students and their families achieve their dreams of obtaining a college degree, Gilbert works tirelessly to bring new opportunities to a much-underserved Pico Rivera community.

Gilbert has become an advocate for education in the Hispanic community, working to create and promote a variety of educational programs to help Hispanic students become more competitive in the college selection process. Gilbert and his wife Jacki are dedicated to hosting community events that inspire K-12 students to create a path towards higher education. Most recently, G1DPR hosted astronaut José M. Hernández as the first of an ongoing speaker series designed to inspire Pico Rivera students to attend college.

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Gilbert is also the President and Co-founder of The Gilbert & Jacki Cisneros Foundation. Founded in 2010, the foundation is committed to improving the level of Hispanic education in the country and has donated scholarships for Hispanic students to The George Washington University, University of Southern California, the Navy Supply Corps Foundation, and Whittier College.

Gilbert has received several awards for his commitment to education. In 2014, Gilbert was appointed by President Obama to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2012, he was honored at the Hispanic Scholarship Hall of Fame by the Hispanic Scholarship Fund with the Triunfadores Award for his philanthropic service.

Previously, Gilbert worked at Frito-Lay® as a shipping & distribution manager, and manufacturing manager. He also served as a supply officer in the U.S. Navy, completing both a Mediterranean and a Western Pacific Deployment. He was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal (two awards), the National Defense Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

He received a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship and graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from The George Washington University. He also holds an MBA from Regis University, and a Masters of Arts degree in Urban Education Policy from Brown University.